Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I'm moving my thoughts about this here rather than continuing to comment on another's blog, as I think it more respectful. This blogger, for whom I've come to care quite a bit and from whom I've learned so very much, is experiencing pain I can't imagine and struggling with the impossibility of living in two worlds.

In the midst of the discussion, a question has arisen for me: How much should a young child understand about relinquishment -- not adoption, but relinquishment itself?

In our case it is very different from domestic infant adoption -- for a time, our daughter remembered (to some degree) her relinquishment. There were very real physical needs met by her relinquishment and subsequent adoption. These things will likely make sense much before she is able to understand systemic injustice or even her first family's loss.

But I'm concerned by what I take to be a notion that adoptive parents have an obligation to make a young child understand relinquishment along with the possibility that it might have been otherwise -- that the relinquishing parent could have been the parenting parent. I'm concerned that *not* positing relinquishment in these terms for a young child is taken to be complicit with an adoption industry intent on separating parents who could have parented from their children. I really believe in the practical impossibility -- and if not that, an extreme unkindness -- of communicating to a voluntarily relinquished young child that it could just as easily have been another way.

1 comment:

Third Mom said...

Oh, man, this has me thinking. When you talk about the "practical impossibility" of explaining relinquishment in such direct terms, the dilemma becomes very clear.

But at the end of the day, no matter how committed I am to adoption reform and mothers' rights, I know I could not have explained relinquishment in really stark terms to my children when they were very little. As they grew up it became possible to explain the circumstances of their adoptions in a way that made it clear that the line between who they call "mom" and "dad" was a pretty fine one.

So so hard. So very hard.